Astronomy Picture of the Day

Quadrantid Meteors and Aurora from the Air

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Quadrantid Meteors and Aurora from the Air

Where do meteor showers originate?

To help answer this question, astronomers studied in some detail the
Quadrantid meteor shower
that occurred over this past weekend.

In particular, astronomers with specialized cameras flew as part of the Quadrantid's
Multi-Instrument Aircraft Campaign (MAC) aboard a
NASA DC-8 aircraft above northern
Canada over the past few days and studied the
Quadrantid meteor shower in unprecedented detail.

Pictured above
is a composite image combining many short exposures.

Visible in the image are the tail of the airplane reflecting a red beacon on the left, green aurora most prominent on the image right, and numerous

Preliminary indications
are that the meteor stream is quite stable in time but variable in meteor abundance.

Over 100 meteors per hour were visible at the peak from the MAC aircraft.

Meteor data from around the world will continue to be analyzed to try to verify
Peter Jenniskens's recent
hypothesis that
minor planet
2003 EH1 is an intermittently
active comet and the parent body of the annual
Quadrantid meteor shower.

Meet sky enthusiasts, astro bloggers, and APOD editor RN in Austin tomorrow (Tuesday) night.

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